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Who invented AC?

If you ask people for the name of the greatest invention in the history of the world, chances are a fair number of them will say air conditioning! The humble air conditioner cools us down on hot days with merely the press of a button. But for such a great invention, not a lot of people know the story behind it.

Air Conditioning has two inventors, both of them having worked on different versions of the machine. The invention of AC is one of the best things to happen to the majority of humanity, and it’s only right to know the story behind it.

A Fascination with Cooling

The basic human urge to beat the heat has its roots wherever people are. Using evaporation with air conditioning started with the Egyptians, who started hanging wet reeds outside their windows to wick away the heat.

The wind blowing through the openings would cause the water to evaporate and the air inside to be cooler than the air outside. In China, inventors worked to create the first rotary-powered fan that could be run by prisoners, and later built the ‘cooling palace.’

This palace was cooled down by water-wheel powered fans and jets of water that would spray up from the floor. It was certainly a marvel of engineering for that era!

Benjamin Franklin’s Thermometers

Using evaporation of water to cool down an object wasn’t just an ancient technique. Benjamin Franklin and his colleague John Hadley worked to figure out how exactly this process worked using science. They discovered that the more volatile a liquid was, the faster the evaporation of that liquid would bring down a thermometer’s temperature.

Franklin found that alcohol would cool down his thermometer faster than plain water would. This discovery led to patents and inventions for ice-making machines, although none of them really worked.

Most of them either leaked, performed irregularly, or simply consumed the ice faster than expected, and the field of refrigeration stalled for several years.

A Bit of Fog

The first person to invent the air conditioner as we know it was Willis Carrier. The invention happened on a train ride. While staring out the foggy window of a train in Pittsburgh, he noticed that he could create dry air by moving it through some water..

Deciding to work with the aspect of using water to remove the humidity in the air, Willis created the first air conditioning unit in 1902. Surprisingly, he didn’t name it.

Who Named AC?

While the invention was successful and Carrier proved that he could move dry air through water to control the temperature, it was a textile worker who named it. Fed up with the sweltering environment inside his textile mill, factory worker Stuart Cramer began work on a machine that used Carrier’s principles.

Once the machine was done, he called it an air conditioner because it would ‘condition’ the air to be cooler. The name stuck, and soon ‘air conditioners’ were popping up in different mills and factories to help cool the hot air down.

The Second Air Conditioning Inventor

While Willis Carrier tends to get all the credit, an African American man named Fredrick Jones was the first to invent a portable air conditioner. He was an inventor who sought to crack the code around refrigeration, and began to figure out a way for refrigeration trucks to keep perishable products cool.

He designed the first portable air conditioner and helped to create the first refrigerated trucks. Later, his portable units were used during the Second World War not only to keep hospitals cool but also to keep supplies and blood transfusions from perishing as they were sent to the front lines.

The Dangers of Early Refrigerant

Remember how it was proven that volatile liquids would cool down air faster when evaporated? Well, this caused some safety issues with the early models that began using specialized liquids called refrigerants. If the air conditioner leaked or otherwise built pressure, it would, well, explode.

Even if it didn’t explode, the resultant gasses were toxic and unsafe to breathe. The use of these dangerous gases went on for a while, but eventually, Freon was invented and trademarked for use in refrigerants. It had all the same properties as the other gases but wouldn’t blow up or be a danger to anyone.

Air Conditioning Today

Now, because of these inventors and the work they did on cooling and refrigeration, we have air conditioning that works on the same principles they studied. Air conditioning also led to the rise of movie theaters (and the classic rural American tale of going to the theater just for the AC), the refrigeration industry, and everything else that is connected to the cold. Including ice cream!

Without Air Conditioning, the world would be a much hotter place, and we’d miss out on some great stuff. A clean, high-quality filter is imperative in your AC system’s function. Check out our online store to find your size and have air filters delivered right to your door!